Refuse to Legalize Recreational Marijuana in Wisconsin to Save Lives and Families
Refuse to Legalize Recreational Marijuana in Wisconsin to Save Lives and Families
To: Governor Evers
From: Callie Smith, Health Care Administration/ Pre-Physical Therapy Student at Carroll University
Subject: Refuse legalization of recreational marijuana to save lives and families
Legalization of recreational marijuana is a hot topic in the United States right now. Eleven states have legalized marijuana for recreational use and many states are aiming to legalize it in the near future (CBS Minnesota, 2019). There has been a big push from Wisconsin citizens to legalize marijuana saying it is ‘harmless’ and a profitable industry (Addiction Resource, 2019). However, marijuana is an addictive drug with harmful effects. The legalization of recreational marijuana also puts communities at risk for more driving-while-impaired accidents. A decision is needed because we need to make a proactive move to foster an environment of safety and not fall victim to reckless marijuana users. A decision is needed to help families deal with marijuana addictions. We need to establish a no-tolerance approach, so we don’t enable those with addictions. In this memo, I will touch on the history of marijuana legalization, provide evidence of the problem marijuana causes, and paint a picture of what society will be like if marijuana is legalized. Wisconsin needs to eliminate any intent to legalize recreational marijuana.
Background/Importance of Issue
Marijuana first became illegal in 1937 after Mexican immigrants brought the culture of recreational marijuana use to the United States (History.com, 2017). The Great Depression hit, and American citizens pushed for the illegalization of all intoxicating substances including marijuana (History, 2017). Awhile later, the Controlled Substances Act of 1970, which is still in effect today, was implemented to criminalize the usage of marijuana, and mark it as a Schedule I drug meaning it is among the most dangerous and addictive substances (History.com, 2017). In 2012, Colorado and Washington were the first states to legalize recreational marijuana (History.com, 2017). Currently, eleven states have legalized recreational marijuana (CBS Minnesota, 2019).
When looking to legalize marijuana, one needs to consider the harm users put on themselves, their family, and the community. Many studies show the long-term effects of marijuana use including impaired brain development and memory, decreased satisfaction, increased risk of heart attacks, and a significant correlation to mental health issues such as schizophrenia (“Marijuana”, 2019). A Swedish study found that if marijuana was used five to ten times in one’s lifetime, they have a “70% increased risk of becoming schizophrenic” (Boyd, 2013). In the proposed budget for 2019-2020, you made a significant adjustment, allocating $22 million to support mental health care providers in schools (Mueller, 2019). This is a well-needed adjustment. However, you are contradicting your efforts by proposing to legalize a substance that has been linked to causing mental health issues. Marijuana is a source of addictions as 100,000 people are treated for marijuana addictions per year (Tracy, 2019). This may seem like an insignificant number overall, but it is significant to me as my [family member] is one of many addicted to marijuana. All my life, my [family member] has struggled through [their] addiction to alcohol and marijuana, spending months in treatment just to relapse shortly after discharge. The effects of addiction are all too familiar to me. When I mention [they need] to seek help for [their] addiction, [they respond] with “It’s going to be legal in Wisconsin so everyone will be doing it. I don’t need to stop.” Communities are growing stronger opinions that marijuana is “harmless”. In 2013, 60% of high school seniors believed marijuana was not dangerous (Sifferlin, 2013). However, studies have shown the increasing harms of marijuana. For example, 12.8 million people drove while impaired in 2017 (“Drugged Driving”, 2019). In 2016, 43% of all “fatally injured drivers” tested positive for illegal drugs with marijuana being the most commonly used (“Drugged Driving”, 2019). These may be statistics, but they are siblings, parents, coworkers, best friends to so many. Imagine if another car was involved—innocent lives are at risk.
Deciding to keep marijuana illegal comes with some consequences. The marijuana industry is very profitable and can be taxed substantially (Wisconsin Policy Forum, 2019). Many believe we would be missing out on these financial benefits of this industry such as the jobs it would create. However, legalizing marijuana benefits addicts like my [family member] who are praying for the day they can smoke freely. Legalizing marijuana would split families, belittle the work of mental health care providers, and put innocent lives in danger. Governor Evers, I beg of you, prioritize families and the good of citizens before the financial prosperity of the government. Stand firm in keeping the devastating drug that is marijuana out of Wisconsin!
Course of Action
In order to accomplish this task, first time possession-of-marijuana charges need to have a higher minimum fine statewide. Many counties have the minimum fine at $1 (Wisconsin Policy Forum, 2019). Offenders that get charged minimally don’t realize the repercussions of marijuana use even if it is their first time. In addition to the fine, money should be set aside for better education on the effects of marijuana use. Those that are educated on the harmful effects may give a second thought before using marijuana. My proposed plan may be unfavorable for many. It may mean more administrative costs and implementation strategies at the law enforcement level. It also calls for a budget readjustment at your end to allow for more preventative actions. People may also think that this policy relates to medical marijuana. However, medical marijuana should not be affected in this ban if it is used for last-resorts and end-of-life care.
There has been a great push to legalize marijuana to increase revenue in Wisconsin. However, marijuana is a harmful drug that affects the user’s mental and physical health, family relationships, and innocent people. It has ruined my relationship with my [family member] as I was shoved aside so [they] could protect [their] marijuana. I predict that if marijuana is legalized, it will follow suit to the devastation e-cigarettes have caused. People’s lives are at risk and you can prevent another devastation. I implore you to take the strong move—Refuse to legalize marijuana!
Boyd, J. Wesley. “Marijuana Is All Natural, so What's the Problem?” Psychology Today, Sussex Publishers, 6 Jan. 2013, www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/almost-addicted/201301/marijuana-is-all-natural-so-what-s-the-problem
Cbs. “Wisconsin Lawmakers Introduce Medical Marijuana Bill.” WCCO | CBS Minnesota, WCCO | CBS Minnesota, 20 Sept. 2019, minnesota.cbslocal.com/2019/09/20/wisconsin-lawmakers-introduce-medical-marijuana-bill/.
“A Clear-Headed Look at Marijuana Policy.” Wisconsin Policy Forum, Apr. 2019, wispolicyforum.org/research/a-clear-headed-look-at-marijuana-policy-assessing-the-governors-proposals-and-their-impacts-on-the-state/.
History.com Editors. “Marijuana.” History.com, A&E Television Networks, 31 May 2017, www.history.com/topics/crime/history-of-marijuana
Mueller, Chris. “Gov. Tony Evers' Budget Looks to Expand Access to Student Mental Health Services.” Post, Appleton Post-Crescent, 7 Mar. 2019, www.postcrescent.com/story/news/2019/03/07/kids-crisis-governor-tony-evers-seeks-boost-school-mental-health-services-wisconsin-education-budget/2905809002/
National Institute on Drug Abuse. “Drugged Driving.” NIDA, Mar. 2019, www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/drugged-driving
National Institute on Drug Abuse. “Marijuana.” NIDA, Sept. 2019, www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/marijuana
Sifferlin, Alexandra. “60% Of High School Seniors Do Not Think Marijuana Is Harmful.” Time, Time, 18 Dec. 2013, healthland.time.com/2013/12/18/60-of-high-school-seniors-do-not-think-marijuana-is-harmful/.
“Stories of Marijuana Addiction - The Progress of A ‘Harmless’ Habit.” Addiction Resource, Sept. 2019, addictionresource.com/rehab-stories/stories-of-marijuana-addiction/.
Tracy, Natasha. “Marijuana (Weed) Facts, Marijuana Statistics.” StackPath, 24 Apr. 2019, www.healthyplace.com/addictions/marijuana-addiction/marijuana-weed-facts-marijuana-statistics